Our family of 4 moved to East TN last summer with the dream of having our own garden to start feeding our family with. Without much gardening experience under my belt, I struggled with where and how to get started, what resources to use for research, and felt stuck at taking the first step. After hearing about Build it Up and getting into the program, we were ecstatic about the support, encouragement, and resources that we would receive to start our garden!

Through the classes I have learned so much, but also that there is still so much to learn! When it was time to start planting, I was in the heaves of first trimester pregnancy, and not sure if we would even get to see our dreams come to fruition this year. Thankfully, with the accountability of the program, and the help of my husband and mother in law, our plants and seeds were planted on time and we have seen a harvest!
This year, I planted a lot of different fruits and vegetables to see what would do well, what we would eat, and learned all the preserving options along the way. It has been truly incredible seeing the ground go from soil and compost to a luscious garden of veggies. I have learned that weed control is key and next year we’ll be putting down landscape fabric on the paths to keep them tamed. 
One of our biggest insect problems was the Mexican bean beetle that destroyed our green beans, and I learned it’s important to plant them early. I will be planting them earlier next year! Thankfully even with the pest issue, I was still able to pick, eat and even preserve plenty of green beans! We planted tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, melons, spaghetti squash, potatoes (white & sweet), popcorn, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, cucumbers and onions! It has been incredibly rewarding walking out to the garden, picking food for meals and seeing all the hard work (that my husband and mother in law did) pay off. It has also forced me to be more creative in the kitchen to use all the zucchini up; pizza, breads, etc. This program has truly been a blessing and the catalyst we needed to get started and feel confident in moving forward in our gardening journey for years to come!